New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

New Boy

Tracy Chevalier

Tracy Chevalier's powerful drama of friends torn apart by jealousy, bullying and betrayal will leave you reeling.

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Tracy Chevalier brings Shakespeare’s harrowing drama of jealousy and revenge to a 1970s era elementary school playground. 

Arriving at his fifth school in as many years, diplomat’s son Osei Kokote knows he needs an ally if he is to survive his first day – so he’s lucky to hit it off with Dee, the most popular girl in school. But one student can’t stand to witness this budding relationship: Ian decides to destroy the friendship between the black boy and the golden girl. By the end of the day, the school and its key players – teachers and pupils alike – will never be the same again.
The tragedy of Othello is transposed to a 1970s suburban Washington schoolyard, where kids fall in and out of love with each other before lunchtime, and practice a casual racism picked up from their parents and teachers. Peeking over the shoulders of four 11 year olds – Osei, Dee, Ian, and his reluctant ‘girlfriend’ Mimi – Tracy Chevalier's powerful drama of friends torn apart by jealousy, bullying and betrayal will leave you reeling.

Advance Galley Reviews

A good book with excellent plot line and beautiful characters.

I have found myself quite interested in the Shakespeare retellings lately. The New Boy did not disappoint. I loved this book and highly recommend.

I enjoyed this quick story told from the perspective of Osei, a black boy, and three other students he encountered on his first day at an all white school. The author does an amazing job at bringing back many of the emotions and thoughts that cross your mind when you are that age, add the gripping retelling of Othello to that mix and you got a gripping story that’s hard to put down. In all honesty, I found it a bit difficult to believe children could be this deceitful and so grown at such a young age, maybe if it was based in a high school or at least middle school level I would’ve more convincing. Other than that, this is a great re-telling and its brought the rest of the Hogarth Shakespeare series to my to be read list!

This is the first book I have read in the Hogarth Shakespeare series, but will not be my last. New Boy by Tracy Chevalier was an emotional, compelling ride into the minds and actions of sixth graders in the 1970s in the style of the play Othello. The story takes place on one school day: the day that the new boy comes. The new boy happens to be a diplomat's son and the first person of color to attend that school. Osei is from Ghana but has been to different schools all over the world and knows how to be the new boy. He meets Dee on the playground and they have an immediate connection, a connection that others on the playground witness and most don't like. The drama and betrayals and bullying that happens on this one day changes every characters life in a drastic way. Very short read but no less enthralling. Definitely recommend.

I loved this book. In some ways, it is a simple story--set entirely in one day, it's the story of a young boy's first day at a new school. The boy just happens to be black, and the school just happens to be all-white. The story takes place sometime in the 1970s. It's a compelling story, and one I didn't realize was a retelling of Othello until the very end. I'm not sure if the book would be better if you didn't know this information going in or not. In any case, the story is compelling on its own, and Tracy Chevalier writes it with grace and simplicity. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My apologies - I entered a review but evidently did not save it . I finished this book on May 12, 2017. 4 stars ~~ The fifth installment in the Hogarth Shakespeare series, a modern retelling of Othello The tragedy of bullying. This story takes place over the span of one day. From the start of the school day to shortly after the last bell rings. Osei was changing schools - again. His diplomatic father was transferred every few months and this was Osei first day at another new school. Osei was respectful, well traveled and very intelligent for his age. Osei was in 6th grade. Dee was given the duty of escorting Osei and answering his question on his first day. This was reassuring for Osei, since it was not only his first day, but he was also the lone black student in this school, at a time when segregation was not all that common. As in every school, this one also had a clique of students, hierarchies of leaders and followers, with Dee being the most popular girl among them and also the sweetest. She and Osei got along very well. Much to the jealousy of some other students, Ian, the troublemaker, especially. As jealousy is wont to do, in all age groups, it begins to create real problems. At this young age it manifests itself into the form of bullying, to set things even further apart. Trying to sort out the story the adults do not see the picture correctly, those to blame refuse to take responsibility, reputations are injured, children are seriously hurt, and it appears that death is unavoidable. I really enjoyed this book. It sucked me into its world. It was exquisitely written moving right along keeping me absorbed. It reminded me of how 11 and 12 year olds saw this world through their young eyes. How important friendship and belonging is to a young person. How easily they can be swayed and made to believe the worst in others, doubting even their own realities. Thank you to First to Read for this ARC published May 11, 2017.

New Boy is the fifth inthe Hogarth Shakespeare series and brings a new take on Othello into 1970's Washington DC with sixth graders. I really enjoyed this new take on the play. It seemed a little strange to have it portrayed by sixth graders, but it works. Some of the behavior and manipulation felt more genuine coming from characters still so young and developing. This was a short read, but still highlighted the play in the span of a single school day. It reminded the reader about the awkwardness of middle school. I will definitely check out other books in this series.

I am a fan of Tracy Chevalier's historical novels, and I guess this might qualify, but I remember 1974! The author does a good job of reminding the reader what it was like to be in middle school, awkward, trying to fit it, read the cliques in a new school. I didn't pick up on the Othello so much as just enjoyed it for what it was-the tale of a boy trying to fit in. I think this might be a good novel for teachers to use in a compare-and-contrast with Othello, as my teachers did with West Side Story and Romeo and Juliet. It is an enjoyable read!

I truly love Tracy Chevalier and wanted to love this book. Perhaps the length of the novel and making the events transpire all in one day did not allow for the character and plot development that I wanted. Transferring Othello to a 1970s suburban Washington school was an interesting plot device, but it seemed to deal in stereotypes. Exchanging Desdemona's handkerchief for a strawberry embossed pencil case made me wince. I applauded Dee's openness and kindness, but the pace at which her relationship with Osei proceded in just a few hours was confounding to me. The novel might be more appropriate for a YA audience.

Thank you for an ARC of "New Boy". I felt the story was okay. I get hung up when the main character has a difficult name to pronounce. It takes half way through the book to finally start skipping over the name and not stopping to pronounce it every time. This book wasn't for me.

I am not familiar with the Hogarth Shakespeare series, but I was intrigued with this re-telling of Othello. I thought the story fit well with the new setting of a suburban middle school in Washington D.C. Kids that age are just becoming aware of their sexuality and are sometimes confused by the emotions and passion that may be aroused. The characters in New Boy had corresponding characters in Othello so it was interesting to see how the characters in New Boy develop in this modern version. I would recommend this book to readers to experience the new version of Othello, even if the story isn't told in iambic pentameter. I also am the same age as the kids in the story, so I really enjoyed remembering some of the 1974 details sprinkled throughout the story.

I really enjoyed the beginning of the book - the characters felt real, and the language and actions felt like things that kids of that age would do and feel. However, the end of the book felt like it came too suddenly considering the age of the characters involved. I really like the idea, but feel that aging the characters up a few grades would have made the book more realistic.

The fifth published title in the Hogarth Shakespeare project, New Boy retells the story of Othello as taking place between newly pubescent children in grade school setting. And it works. Othello’s naivety, Iago’s petty viciousness, and Desdemona’s heedless plunge into new found passion are all to be found here. In fact, it is easier to accept the action as taking place between still developing minds than it is to accept as taking place between supposedly mature adults. One comes away with the feeling that maturity would put an end to the venality. Of course, that’s not to be, for selfishness, jealousy, betrayal, revenge and tragedy persist throughout the human race, not beholden to any specific age or class. Tracey Chevalier’s writing is competent and direct. This is a short book, as a retelling of a play should be short, and it demands some imagination on the part of the reader. Those readers who fall into this modern adaption of one of Shakespeare’s greatest works will be amply rewarded for their efforts.

New Boy is the fifth title to be published in the Hogarth Shakespeare project. The book mirrors the storyline of Othello with friendship, jealousy and betrayal in a very respectable retelling. The names of the characters, their personalities, the desire to fit in, sexuality and racism, all converge on a playground in the 1970s where the story takes place. In the course of one day, at an all white middle school in Washington DC the drama unfolds and the tension heightens. The one aspect that left a feeling of unbelief was that 11 year olds, especially in the 1970s, were as sexually aware as they were portrayed. I really enjoyed reading New Boy and learning about the Hogarth Shakespeare project. (I did not know about it previously.) You do not have to be a Shakespearian scholar to read and love this book. There are many subjects that will leave you questioning the actions and thoughts of the characters.

I've never studied Othello and read a synopsis of its plot only after I finished reading New Boy. I wanted to be able to evaluate the story on its own merit and not on its effectiveness as a retelling of a classic tragedy. Overall, I think New Boy can be read as a stand alone. Tracy Chevalier's choice of setting and the way she unfolds the plot over the course of a single school day create an intriguing, unique approach to the themes of young love, jealousy, racism, bigotry and power. These are certainly sophisticated issues, but transposing them to an elementary school playground is not far-fetched, and the intense emotions experienced by the kids in the novel are not unreasonable. Not being familiar with Othello, I wasn't prepared for the ending. To me, it felt as if the author lost control - she was rushing to a specific conclusion and wasn't quite sure how to get there. Too much happened too fast and some of the actions seemed too out of character and too extreme.

I finished this 70's playground tragedy late last night. I actually liked this idea of Othello being retold in an elementary school setting. Kids at that age fickle, move very fast, and gossip.

I have a love-hate relationship with retellings - leaning toward the hate side. Prior entries in the Hogarth Shakespeare series have not inspired me - perhaps I know the outcome of the story too well to enjoy a new version. New Boy, by Tracy Chevalier, was much more gripping than I expected. Yes, I knew the background story of Othello. And I could quickly discern the players and their roles. But the setting, timing, and interactions of this retelling were unique enough that I found myself anxious to see how it would play out, even though the ending was clear. I highly recommend this title. With thanks to the publisher, Hogarth, and the author, Tracy Chevalier, for the advance reader copy.

I really liked New Boy, but I have really liked all the Hogarth Shakespeare I've read! I've always liked Othello, so this was a great, short read. The school setting worked surprisingly well.

A retelling of Shakespeare's "Othello," set in a 1970s suburban sixth grade classroom and playground. I really wanted to like this more than I actually did. The setting and age of the characters did a real disservice to this retelling - the drama was very low-grade until the VERY end, and the stilted writing and dialogue made it difficult to get invested in the characters.

An interesting retelling of Othello. It's very easy to figure out which characters here match up to the original characters in the play. It's a little hard to believe that the students developed such strong feelings about Osei in just one day, or a few hours even, and the range of emotions they express are a bit too complicated for their ages. However overall, it's a clever retelling of a classic.

This is my first time reading one of the Hogarth Shakespeare retellings and I'm so glad it was Othello. It was one of three plays I had read in school (the others being Romeo and Juliet and MacBeth of course) and I really enjoyed it then. It isn't, however, my first time reading a book by Tracy Chevalier. I own copies of The Girl with the Pearl Earring and The Virgin Blue, and I've also read Remarkable Creatures a few months back. I love her writing style and the way she makes her characters and settings feel truly alive. The setting for this retelling was perfect, seeing as a schoolyard seems to have its own politics most times and is a little microcosm of a kingdom. Even though I knew where it was headed, I was curious to see how the more violent elements of Othello were going to be translated into this version with little elementary school children and I have to say, it was brilliant. Nothing seemed like it was incredibly forced in there to get the elements right (names, the hankerchief/pencil case, the fights). I'm definitely going to read more of her books and will pick up the other books in the Hogarth Shakespeare series.

This story about youngsters encountering a new boy took place in one school day. It dealt with stereotypes and racial beliefs among the children and teachers. The story was a quick and easy read but the end was disconcerting so I do not believe I will recommend it.

This was a really good story. It was sharply written, and although one could understand the difficulty in retelling a tragedy in the setting of an elementary school playground, Tracy Chevalier pulls it off without a hitch. Any reader will be able to relate to this story. Whether you were the cool kid in school, the jock, the bully, or the nerd - even if you felt you never had a place, you will find yourself transported back to those days on the school playground. New Boy profoundly expresses what it is to be “other,” and walk into a situation that is new to you, but settled and familiar to others; whether it is being the new kid at school or the first day on a new job, the experience is nearly universal. I rated this novel five stars because I would recommend it to anyone. The fact that it is a retelling of Shakespeare's Othello adds depth and gravitas, but it is not necessary to have any knowledge of the play to appreciate the story in New Boy. I also liked it because it was short and didn't let my attention waver. It is a book that makes you remember what it is like to feel your whole existence encompassed in the politics of the school playground; something that is easily forgotten as people grow older and realize how big the world is.

Interesting spin on Othello, but it seemed that events unfolded rather too hastily and the characters were not terribly well fleshed-out.

A modern retelling of Othello, this story by Tracey Chevalier was riveting! The story takes place at an elementary school in one day. Bullying, jealousy, and racism pack a powerful punch. My jaw dropped at the ending. Read in one sitting, I believe that was how it should have been read. I think it will certainly appeal to both young adult, and adults alike. Outstanding! I won this ARC through the Penguin First To Read Giveaway Program, in return for an honest review.

Tracy Chevalier's New Boy brings Othello from the streets of Venice to a schoolyard in 1970's Washington, D.C. Othello becomes Otei, son of the Ghanaian diplomat and the only black student in the school. I will admit that I've never read Othello, but after reading a synopsis, this retelling does an excellent job of modernizing the story for a younger audience that may ask "why do we have to read this?" It also feels relevant with current politics and the Black Lives Matter movement. This book was definitely a page-turner, and just wait until you get to the ending!

Othello, set in a suburban 6th grade class in the 70's. In many ways, really clever-- it all happens in a single school day, the first day at a new school for Osei, the son of a Ghanan diplomat, who finds himself the only black child in his suburban D.C school, an object of fascination, barely disguised hatred, and curiosity to his new schoolmates, including, of course, the class's golden girl, Dee, her observant friend Mimi, and the trouble-maker and school bully, Ian. Chevalier was really good at capturing the middle-school intensity of trivial things, and made me realize what a perfect setting middle school is for Shakespeare. This is a world where a relationship really can (and of course does) go from zero to tragedy in the course of a single day, where everything is magnified, and where tiny events (a lost pencil case, who was seen sitting next to whom at lunch) take on huge significance. But I didn't think the ending quite nailed the balance between what is owed to the original and the plausibility constraints of the new setting.

I always enjoy reading Tracy Chevalier, and this did not disappoint. I think it's important to know it is a retelling of Othello prior to reading it, though, as I'm not sure it stands on its own with the same muster. The setting works surprisingly well, and the story moves quickly and flawlessly. I can't help but think if this had been read in conjunction with Othello in high school, I would have understood it far better!

This is a highly readable retelling of Shakespeare's Othello. It captures the intense emotions of pre-adolescents and addresses racial issues in the 1970s. I gave it a three star rating. My rating would have been higher if the characters were older. I had a hard time believing that sixth graders were so sophisticated and self-aware in the 70s.

New Boy is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare project, a modern retelling of a classic. Othello is its inspiration. It takes place on one day at an all white middle school in Washington DC during the 1970's. The likeness to Othello was extremely well done. The similarity in the characters names. personalities and relationships are remarkable as is the drama of the plot. My only problem with the book is I think 11 year olds arer too young to possibly become involved in the sophisticated emotional, racial and sexual situations that occurred this playground. I

I loved this homage to Shakespeare's Othello. As I have learned from my elementary age children, there are wars fought and great loves thrown by the wayside daily on the playground. There are a gamut of instigators, popular kids, and wannabes. I appreciated the shake up of an old classic from a literary master. It was a quick read, but a great testimony to the craft of an eloquently written piece.

The latest in the #HogarthShakespeare project, Tracy Chevalier's New Boy is a retelling of the tragedy of Othello. In it, Shakespeare's stage is reimagined as a 1970s American school yard, the players now a group of 6th graders grappling with fledging relationships, puberty, and (of course) racism. When precocious Osei, a Ghanaian diplomat's son, joins a mostly white suburban school, his mere presence disrupts the flow of students and teachers alike. I think the middle school setting really works for Othello, and appreciate the depiction of institutional racism. However, I would have preferred a standalone book rather than a companion piece, which is what I believe we have here. For all Chevalier's clever work translating the plot, Act IV suffers from sticking too closely to the source material. The ending feels especially forced, violent, and rushed in opposition to the carefully repurposed proceedings. Because of this, I imagine readers with little Othello knowledge will be reviewing fairly harshly. Personally, I broke out my own big Bard tome for a quick refresher! 3/5 stars.

What happens when you combine Othello, a racially charged period of history in the US, with a group of junior high schoolers? New Boy. This retelling of Othello sheds new light on the story and sends important messages about racism. What Chevalier does well is by casting the characters we know so well as junior high schoolers. It is jarring to see these universal feelings of manipulation, jealousy, and envy in this younger age group. No doubt that this is plausible, as children and young adults nowadays have an immense ability for bullying and making mistakes that have fatal consequences. Yet Chevalier takes it one step further and makes a parallel between the children and the teachers. She shows us how fear, and especially racism is learned from adults. This unique perspective makes the whole book more intellectually rich in my opinion. The writing of the book is incredibly descriptive. It is truly a joy to read the writing because it takes you there. Taking place in the course of a day, evokes narratives like Ulysses, and not only increases the tension, but illustrates how volatile and powerful the evolution of these emotions are. In terms of characters, these are all the familiar ones we know from the play, but allows us a closer look. By having the narrative alternating, we are given a much more in depth look at each of them that the play is not really able to convey. Just like in Othello, we want the plot to change, for love to win and triumph over racism and manipulation. This constant battle between hope and fate, creates a tension in the pit of our stomach. The ending shocked me and I had to read it many times and am still left hanging. Truly well done as a whole, I am pleased not only with the pleasure of reading New Boy, but also with the intellectual touches.

Tracy Chevalier’s NEW BOY is a modern day retelling of Shakespeare’s Othello, complete with love, prejudice, and jealousy as applied to a sixth grade class in Washington DC several decades ago. The story is made relatable to young people because it’s told via the popular girl and boy, the bully, and a new black students. This “one day in the life” is definitely a springboard for further discussion, and isn’t that what a good novel is all about?

A modern (1970s) retelling of Othello, on the playground. This reimagining centers around a new student from Ghana entering an elementary school after his diplomat father is reassigned to Washington DC. Osei starts the story as a confident young man that has dealt with multiple moves over the years, has lost his best friend (sister) over the years to her maturing and wanting to stay behind at their last station, and obviously, has to deal with not just being the new boy at school, but the new black boy who speaks with an accent. From the outset we watch him being steadily chipped away at, by the teachers, which he's mostly become accustomed to, to the staring, pointing, curiosity, and laughter, which he's also grown accustomed to. What he hasn't ever had is Dee. She is different from the beginning. She's engaging, she's beautiful in his eyes, and she is his safe place in this sea of often hostile strangers. A touch of happiness, and then in steps Ian. A truly repulsive character, he subtly manipulates everyone around him to gain his own ends. Not your usual playground bully but a truly evil kid. He puts things into motion that bring down the most popular boy in school, leave Dee a shivering mess, cause one girl to become paralyzed in a playground incident, and the outcome for Osei is the saddest of all. With racism, manipulation, deceit, and young love abounding in this story, it's a quickly consumable and worthwhile afternoon read.

Wow...if I knew more about Shakespeare I may have known where this story was headed, since it's billed as 'a modern retelling of Othello'.... as it happens, I don't know much about that story/tragedy at I found myself quite surprised at the ending! With only a few pages left, I found myself thinking "There isn't enough pages here for this to end right!" And then it ended! I really liked this version tho, the author really made it very appropriate to this time period. And I really liked that it is set in the 1970's, & I enjoyed the use of that time period's song lyrics. It makes me think to check out the others in this 'Hogarth Shakespeare' series. Very good book, quick read. I recommend this to everyone! Excellent... I did win this ARC in a Penguin First To Read Giveaway Program, in return simply for my own honest review.

Using Othello in a modern retelling to depict not only racism but bullying, had me intrigued and excited. Unfortunately, for me, this book didn't quite hit that mark. I will start by saying, I am not incredibly familiar with Othello, at least in the nuances of the play. I know the general character and plot though. Sometimes in retellings, knowing a story too intimately can make the experience difficult. Other times, the opposite. I think in this case, knowing the play would have helped. Overall, I felt that the children were too young to have the thoughts and general self-awareness required to make the plot believable. I think that had it been set in a Junior High setting it would have been more plausible. My other issue was the timeline. Some of this relates to the age of the children again, but I simply did not find it realistic that such intense emotions would occur in a single day with limited interactions. My experience, both direct and indirect of sixth graders, is that while emotions can be intense and sudden, this level of passion felt like a reach. Othello was a good play to choose to highlight the topics of racism and bullying. The writing was good and if you can overlook some of the plot stretches, I think fans of Shakespeare will enjoy it. It was a fast read, and like the play, gives the reader subject matter to digest and use to analyze the world around them. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

I have not yet read any of the other books in the Hogarth series but New Boy is a clever interpretation of Othello that does not require familiarity with the original. It is set in Washington D.C. in the 1970s, which may feel strange to regular readers of Chevalier, who typically immerses the reader deep in history, often in other countries or cultures. New Boy doesn't have the sweeping drama and complex characters that Chevalier is known for, but the characters are still likable. The plot is slow to develop but Chevalier uses racial relations in a school setting well to create conflict. 3/5 stars.

On an elementary school yard in Civil Rights-era white suburbia, Shakespeare's "Othello" plays out. Osei, an Ghanaian immigrant, prepares himself for yet another first day at an exclusively white school. He bonds instantly with Dee, their chemistry palpable to all. This causes a stir and Ian, school bully and sociopath, makes it his goal to punish them for their interracial friendship/romance by the end of the day. While this story is well-written and well-conceived it is a difficult recommendation. As with all Shakespearean tragedies reality must be suspended to account for the lightning speed at which a series of life-altering events occur and the reader must prepare for the often one-dimensional characterization of the supporting cast. Told in five acts, the conceptualization of "Othello" as a playground drama is clever. But cleverness is difficult to appreciate outside an extensive knowledge of the play. Without the play to hold up the storyline I believe the tale would collapse on itself. I would highly recommend this book to Shakespeare fans, theater folk, and those indulgent of both. I suspect it will not stand up as well for those less familiar with the play; this is not a dig at the reader but rather an observation for an author who is writing for the Hogarth Shakespeare project. This is an important note to make for anyone planning to read the book, so forgive my slight divergence. Hogarth Shakespeare project is an excellent initiative in which stellar authors reinterpret Shakespeare's classics in novel form. This project is ideal for a classroom that is reading whichever Shakespeare play is being interpreted. However, it is necessary to clearly equate this novel to that project, rather than reading it as a stand alone. My Rating: 3/5

I read this book in an entire sitting, which I think is appropriate, given that the events of Tracy Chevalier’s New Boy take place over the course of one chaotic day. It is also appropriate that most of the crucial scenes in the book take place on a small stage, the playground. Kids can be cruel, anyone can tell you that, but Chevalier hauntingly captures the extent to which open space and lenient supervision can bring out the most vicious and spiteful sides of children. Yet they are also tender, sensitive, fierce, and brave. They are people—a fact that is often forgotten by many authors, but not this one. The protagonist, eponymous new boy Osei, enters a world that is monitored and controlled by adults who seem to never realize just how much kids can observe and understand and internalize. When we overhear the ridiculous, outright offensive things that seemingly rational grownups say to each other, we come close to understanding the sheer volume of crap—to put it bluntly—that Osei, a young black boy in an all-white school, is forced to deal with. The world is against O, and what he looks like, and what he represents. He’s not just the new boy. He’s the black boy. New Boy deals with racism in many ways. There are the overt snubs and the subtle insults played off as jokes. There are those who go overboard to prove how accepting they are of difference and there are those who are outright vocal about their discrimination. In fact, the former outnumber the latter. What this story does so well is exposing how much we struggle with biases and harmful assumptions, and how this struggle begins at a young age. The book is narrated through the voices of several child witnesses to this crucial day. Their voices are simple, youthful, and honest. In contrast, Chevalier’s adult characters, understandably, take a backseat and feel sometimes like caricatures or plot devices. The plot often doubles back on itself as different narrators retell the same event, which leads the pace of the story to slow down at times. In the end, I think it would be doing an injustice to the message of this story to simply say that I enjoyed it. I can’t simply enjoy a book that deals with such difficult (and timely) issues to the extent that New Boy does. I’m left feeling shocked and uncomfortable. I think that’s an okay place to be.

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier Shakespeare for the young adult crowd: Tracy Chevalier has given us a one-day reading of Othello, set in a middle school drowning in the 1970’s and its a page turner. The writing is simplified to the point you could distribute to middle schools across the country tomorrow and begin educating our youth immediately - lots of lessons contained within regarding bigotry, racism, feminism, politics and classism. (However, one might need to explain the 70’s to *kids today* before setting out.) This novella feels like Chevalier wrote it in a week. The story itself takes place in a single day in a Washington DC, all-white public school. Osei arrives, a Ghanian sixth-grader, transferring in from NYC. He is worldly-wise and has changed schools a number of times due to his father’s occupation as a diplomat. He has experienced various levels of racism already and is not phased by the scrutiny of his new teachers and classmates. What he cannot anticipate or prepare himself for is the blatant cruelty and manipulation by the school bully, Ian, a sociopath who targets Osei and uses others to bring down the entire hierarchy of the playground. Middle school is a stretch for the retelling of Othello. While Chevalier’s playground politics were credible and reminiscent of school experiences everywhere, the mature themes were not realistically enacted. And I had a hard time imagining an all-white public school in DC just as I doubted the doorman in Osei’s former apartment building wouldn’t call the family a taxi whenever they needed one - an upper NYC neighborhood with a diplomat in the building who generously tips at Christmas is not going to have a racist for a doorman, at least not one who exposes himself on the job - doormen are notoriously professional. In short, I found the story flawed but compelling. Granted, if an author had bothered to do this back when I was in the 6th grade, I’d have probably read a lot more of the bard. Also, if teachers had been hip enough to teach Will’s literature in easy-access analogy form, I’d have paid more attention. This was good, not great.

Playgrounds are fascinating studies as a place where familiar social ecosystems develop among children. New Boy by Tracy Chevalier follows the story of a boy's first day at a new school. It's Osei's first day at a new school in Washington, D.C. Not only is he the new boy, he's also the only black child in the school. Dee, a teacher favorite, is partnered up with Osei, or more easily called O, to help get him up to speed with the classroom procedures and lessons. The children in this sixth grade class spend a fair amount of time before, during, and after school on their playground, where there are rules that seem to govern how people behave. With the emotions raging, O and Dee quickly become enamored with one another, to the annoyance of Ian. As Ian works to keep his surroundings working to his advantage, he schemes to undermine O and Dee's budding relationship, not caring about the repercussions. Placing the emotionally charged Othello in a schoolyard setting makes a lot of sense given the tendency toward rather childish attitudes and antics presented in the original play. The deviousness of Ian's actions and the complicity of the children trying to fit in or survive relatively unscathed were well-depicted and elicited the universal feeling and experience of the play quite well. Setting the story in the 1970s helped to convey unease toward racial differences that were portrayed in the original. I found it a little difficult to believe that so much turmoil took place on just one day, as there was a fair amount of relatively elaborate scheming going on and events in Othello took a longer time to develop and fester, but in demonstrating with the quick and sometimes fleeting nature of children's emotions, it is still mildly believable. Overall, I'd give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

I was immediately hooked on this story. The way the characters were portrayed was amazing and felt pretty realistic. I liked that we learned about Osei's family and how he not only felt like an outsider at school, but also at home with his sister as well. The events that transpired that fateful day also felt very real and matched with the time period. My only problem with this book was the ending. I felt like the drama and suspense had built up and Ian's terrible actions were about to be revealed and then it all just came rushing out, then the book abruptly ended. I wish the ending had been drawn out just a little longer, rather than Mimi just summarizing what Ian had done and Osei falling from the jungle gym. Overall I'd rate this book as a 3 out of 5 stars.

Thanks for the advanced copy of "New Boy ",First to Read. Tracy Chevalier's spin on Shakespear's "Othello" is one of the better attempts at the indomitable task of updating a master storyteller Chevalier hits all the right notes and does not lose the drama, intrigue, berayl and passion albeit toned down to fit in a few days of middle school. All the characters ring true .Race in America is a tough topic to depict for many authors but Chevailer tells a very compelling story. The book is a worthwhile read.

Yeah this is a strong no for me. Blame it on my innocent childhood but I believe the story being transposed to that are just did not work.


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